In Retrospect: A Look At The History Of ‘Guys And Dolls’

Posted on 17 July 2015

If you have your eye on Twitter a lot (and if you don’t then, why not!?) then you’ve surely heard the news that the Chichester Festival Theatre revival of Guys and Dolls that ran last year will start previews at the Savoy Theatre on December 10th after Gypsy leaves the Savoy in November (also a revival that transferred from Chichester). So, to celebrate this exciting new revival, I thought I’d take you through the production history of Guys and Dolls much like what I did with Gypsy a few months back.

Guys and Dolls started its life all the way back in November 1950 when it premiered on Broadway at the 46th Street Theatre (which we now know to be the Richard Rodgers Theatre, soon to be home to the off-Broadway hit Hamilton as of July). This original production ran for a generous 1,200 performances exactly and left the Great White Way with five Tonys in tow, including Best Musical. A London production followed at the London Coliseum starting performances in May 1953. The production ran for a considerably less amount of shows than the Broadway production with 555 and wasn’t nominated for any Olivier’s because the Olivier’s didn’t exist yet at this point in time.

New York City Center staged three New York revivals in years to come with one in 1955 and then two in 1965 and 1966 respectively. A full-scale Broadway revival didn’t come around until July 1976 where the show ran at the Broadway Theatre until February the following year. The production was nominated for Best Revival at the Tony Awards but failed to win. A London revival shortly followed in 1982 after a failed revival in 1971; Laurence Olivier wanted to stage and star in a revival but due to bad health, he couldn’t, so it took a further 11 years for a full-scale West End revival to materialise. The revival was produced at the National Theatre and was eligible for the Olivier Award for Best Musical, which it won. This production ran until late 1983 (with Imelda Staunton in the closing company) before a UK tour, which then resulted in the show returning to London at the Prince of Wales Theatre for a year in 1985. 

The 1992 revival of the show is arguably the most successful production of the show to date. The revival starred Nathan Lane who took a Tony Award home for his performance as Nathan, as well as Peter Gallagher as Sky and Faith Prince as Adelaide. The show ran at the Martin Beck Theatre from April 1992 to January 1995 for 1143 performances. The show received eight Tony nominations and took home four including Best Revival of a Musical.

In 1996, the National Theatre revival was revived by the same people once again and opened in December 1997 for a limited run to the following March. Imelda Staunton reprised her performance as Adelaide and the show opened for another limited season from July to November 1997.  The most high profile West End revival followed in 2005 with Ewan McGregor, Jenna Russell, Jane Krakowski and Douglas Hodge in the leading roles. The show played at the Piccadilly Theatre from June 2005 to April 2007. It won the Olivier for Outstanding Musical Production and Jane Krakowski took home the Olivier for Best Actress in a Musical. A Broadway revival followed in 2009 running at the Nederlander Theatre for a sadly short run of 113 official performances.

And now, the West End is going to see the show again. The new West End revival of Guys and Dolls starts previews on December 10th at the Savoy Theatre with opening night set for January 6th. It’s a limited run though so make sure to get tickets quick – closing date is set for March 12th!